On Tuesday Franklin voters had to choose among six candidates for three seats on the school board. Voters could select up to three but weren’t obligated to pick three. Four of the six were very liberal.
At the end of the night three liberals were elected. The lone conservative, my choice, Angela Christie, and a moderate incumbent, Claude Lewis, didn’t crack the top three.
With 96% of the vote in and Christie in 1st place I thought she had won a position. I was premature and wrong. A flurry of final votes dropped her down to 4th place. Lewis, who never lifted a finger to help himself during the campaign, never had much of a chance.
Was Christie done in by the numbers, one against five with voters having the option to opt for three?
Here are the final results:
Franklin Schools (3 seats)
100% of precincts reporting
Maqsood Khan 2,328 22%
Ann Sepersky 2,173 20%
Angela Bier 2,088 20%
Angela Christie 2,027 19%
Claude Lewis 1,245 12%
Shuchi Wadhwa 759 7%
As I wrote prior to the election typically in school board races throughout Wisconsin the slate of candidates as well as the actual board members are more liberal than the communities they come from. That has certainly been the case since I moved into Franklin in 1992.
The fact is Franklin is a majority conservative small city. It just is. However the school board has never truly represented the conservative values of the city in the nearly 30 years I’ve been a resident. That has bothered and perplexed me for a long time.
About the final tally, did Franklin voters take advantage of being able to vote for three candidates? I didn’t because in my view there weren’t three candidates worth my vote, only one for sure and two at best.
Consider out of 5,655 total votes cast in Franklin there were 3,669 under votes. What does that mean? More voters DIDN’T vote for all three than did. That suggests that the 1,956 who made three choices selected the three ultimate winners.
The conservative choice for state DPI Superintendent Debb Kerr also lost in Franklin.
Did conservatives stay home? Or, and I know you should never insult the voters, were they just inexplicably non-conservative? Or just plain dumb?
Strangely Franklin’s results contrast with those in the Oak Creek-Franklin joint school board where two incumbents who favored virtual school in the fall lost their seats. We’re also starting to hear similar reports in other districts that delivered loud and clear messages to liberal school board members. Franklin went just the opposite.
Let’s look at Tuesday’s winners.
When the Journal Sentinel asked candidates the simple question, “How would you assess the district’s plan to reopen schools during the COVID-19 pandemic?” Khan responded:
Khan: Franklin Public Schools made a good effort in reopening its doors during the COVID-19 pandemic. I realize it’s difficult for parents who quarantined their kids often because a classmate became infected. But frontline workers, like school nurses and me, got vaccinated. Teachers will too. According to the Jan. 20 Monitor and Transition Dashboard, 0.5 percent of the student population have tested positive — a low rate. I know the district carefully considers four trigger points before deciding to close a school for a two-week period. As a physician, I believe we must continue to wear masks, socially distance and get vaccinated.
Seems Khan was more concerned about preaching about COVID than what school district policy should be.
A simple yes or no would have sufficed Schools: Re-open or not? Good idea? Bad idea?
Khan had difficulty like other candidates answering direct questions with direct answers. Khan has a child in virtual and that’s OK, but never mentioned it, until I brought up the issue on my blog. His mother is in the late stages of dementia and at high risk of infection and death. Khan told me “We wanted to do what was best to keep our family safe.”
Why didn’t he just say that at the very beginning?
On diversifying the curriculum, Khan told the Journal Sentinel:
Currently the school curriculum involves superficial knowledge of different races, religions, communities and physical abilities. My daughter felt extremely uncomfortable when her classmates were picking on a student with special needs. Most curriculums address Japanese internment, but lessons should also combat misconceptions of racial minorities, religions and cultures. We must teach students about the variety of cultures that make up our world. Our curriculum needs to present history from many viewpoints, focus on contributions of all communities who have made the U.S. a great nation. The curriculum must empower students of all backgrounds.
My reaction: And who, which ethnicities, get included in the curriculum and which do not?
I do commend Khan for extensively utilizing social media.
She bragged about being an experienced leader. Prior to Tuesday no one had voted for her. She was appointed last fall to fill a vacancy on the board. Her other claim to fame was she attended lots and lots of meetings. Color me unimpressed.
On diversifying the curriculum Sepersky told the Journal Sentinel:
More than ever our society as a whole needs to change and include the voices of all. Schools have always been the place that have helped us grow as a nation and we’ve seen that this year as well. We need to ensure that our educators feel supported to include diverse perspectives and underrepresented voices, and that the perspectives of our own diverse student body are included and celebrated.
I understand the candidates were asked about diversity. This emphasis on diversity instead of the basic and critical components of learning for the future that Sepersky fails to mention is political correctness. How about a response like: Diversity, while important, should not be our highest priority. She worries me.
Signed the recall petition against Scott Walker.
Also proudly signed the recall petition against Walker with nary a clue about how ACT 10 saved the state billions of dollars and also rescued school districts and their financing.
On re-opening schools Bier told the Journal Sentinel:
I was concerned that re-opening in the face of a high community burden was risky. However, students and staff have gone above and beyond to work for the common good, follow recommended safety protocols, and truly limit spread in school. I’ve never been so happy to be proven wrong.
Bier was initially wrong and admitted it. But she should have been supportive of in-person school from the very beginning. Her overall judgment is questionable.
On diversifying the curriculum Bier told the Journal Sentinel:
As with all high-stakes changes, significant curriculum change should involve all relevant stakeholders, including informed parents, community members, teachers, and content experts. If changes are recommended, we must then assess what is being lost and whether it is a good tradeoff. Perhaps as important as diversifying curriculum, Franklin should focus on hiring a diverse, qualified professional staff. All students deserve to have teachers that look like them, as well as those who do not, in order to prepare them to work in a diverse economy and world.
Again, too much focus on diversity. And that’s troubling.
On district improvements Bier stunningly told the Journal Sentinel:
Franklin has long needed an improved high school gymnasium and associated facilities. This should be a public-private partnership, maximizing fundraising arms of the district to leverage motivated private entities’ philanthropic missions. If public funding via referendum is still required, we must commit to robust public access to the space for recreational programming.
We already spend a fortune on our schools. Another referendum to increase spending and taxes is absurd. Bier is scary.
BOTTOM LINE: Franklin has elected a school board firmly in WEAC’s back pocket. Teachers and administrators will come first above parents and students. As I wrote before the election, after Tuesday the Franklin School Board will still be filled with liberal rubber stamps for the teachers union and the administration.
And as one astute reader of mine noted, here come the referenda.